I do love a good preview week! The new cards get my creative juices flowing. Most of Conspiracy: Take the Throne was spoiled last week and for the most part, the cards were fantastic. Even the reprints had me reminiscing about old decks and looking at how those older cards would work with the new stuff in the set!
Now that the excited, "everything is so shiny!" phase of last week has passed, we have the chance to look at the entire set with a more discerning eye, carefully looking at each of the revealed cards, looking for faults and issues we... oh, who am I kidding? OOOH SHINY! I LOVE THIS SET!
After looking at all the cards in the set, I thought I'd mention a few that are particularly interesting for multiplayer Constructed. These aren't the cards that have a starring role in your upcoming Conspiracy: Take the Throne draft or will be amazing in your cube — These are the cards Commander players will love. These are the cards the 60-card casual crowd will add to their decks or even build whole new decks around.
Our Royal Highness is going to be an amazing commander for many decks. The built-in card draw from becoming the monarch is solid, the 1/1 deathtouch assassins she creates will provide a good way to become the monarch again and offer a superb defense, and when you consider that white is generally good at finding ways to flicker creatures, just flickering Queen Marchesa will be enough to get the extra card draw.
While Queen Marchesa is an amazing card, being the monarch is what I'm really excited about. This ability is going to be a game-changer; so many multiplayer games are bogged down, slow-moving games where the downside of attacking discourages players from doing anything. When you know you are leaving yourself open to multiple attacks if you attack, suddenly hitting someone for a few points of damage seems ridiculous.
The monarch gives a real reason to attack. With the added upside of card draw, suddenly losing a few extra life seems fine. If you are unlikely to be able to stop every opponent from taking the monarch from you, you may be better off letting the first opponent to attack you get through. Once someone else is the monarch, the likelihood of an opponent attacking you goes down. It isn't guaranteed that you won't get attacked, but at least the chance of drawing a card by attacking elsewhere has to be considered by opponents.
The draw of the monarchy can also mean that a player with a good defense will likely draw lots of extra cards and be more likely to win the game because if it. This still means the games end faster!
Between Queen Marchesa and the many other cards that make their controller the monarch, I'm confident we'll see this regularly. Even the worst-case scenario is that the card allows you to draw a card. That is enough to make many of those cards good enough to play. I look forward to wearing the crown during many nights of gaming!
As if being the monarch and drawing cards wasn't enough, Regal Behemoth is part of a cycle of cards that provide a further benefit as long as you are the monarch. In the case of Regal Behemoth, things get exhilarating for you and miserable for your opponents. You'll be drawing a card at the end of your turn, and likely have twelve mana the next turn, assuming you can remain the monarch.
Regal Behemoth works well in five-color decks or decks that steal opponents' creatures or use their abilities. I don't even think you need to get into exotic decks to run Regal Behemoth. I also like Regal Behemoth for pretty much any green deck! It doubles your mana! This card offers mana ramp and the chance for extra card drawing, an excellent path to victory.
Even if you can't hold on to the monarchy, a 5/5 trampling creature often gets through for some damage, so expect Regal Behemoth to do a great job returning you to the throne.
Desertion is my favorite Counterspell.
I understand keeping five mana open for a Counterspell is difficult. I understand that while this counters any spell, you really only want to use it to counter a bonkers artifact or game-changing creature. I understand that some groups aren't big fans of Counterspells in general. In spite of all that, this card is still a ton of fun.
You can counter any spell. Stopping a Wrath of God effect or watching their Planeswalker settle comfortably in its grave are both satisfying even if you didn't get to take control of anything.
I find that in most games, I'm rarely waiting more than a few turns for something particularly juicy to be cast. In Commander, I often have five mana available and unused, so keeping it open is no hardship. All of this is great, but the real reason anyone loves Desertion is because it should have been named, "Thank you." I'm no griefer, but I do love that look of frustration and torment when I counter my opponent's Queen Marchesa, then slowly slide it over to my side of the table, with a Cheshire Cat grin on my face.
I had a chance to preview this card last week for the mothership, so you can check out my thoughts there. What I missed there, though, was how Leovold, Emissary of Trest will work with Teferi's Puzzle Box or Jace's Archivist. This guy can be the commander for a deck that will be joylessly miserable for your opponents. I want to discourage you from building what will be an Abomination. Leovold, Emissary of Trest can shine as a deck that makes your opponents squirm; putting them into a lock that is almost impossible to escape from is quite another thing altogether.
Selvala's original iteration, Selvala, Explorer Returned, has proven to be a fun card in my group. Everyone draws a card through parley and its controller regularly gets two or three extra mana. It moves games along with all the card draw, and encourages decks to try and use the drawn cards against their opponents.
Enter Selvala, Heart of the Wilds. This Selvala offers card draw for everyone, but realistically, only Selvala's controller should be drawing many cards from this. New Selvala looked at the old one's unreliable mana and decided that players would like to know exactly how much mana they are getting before they tap to try and get it.
This might not be as much fun for the group, but Selvala, Heart of the Wilds is a whole lot better.
I don't find Grenzo, Havoc Raiser all that impressive by himself. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser isn't going to be doing that combat damage as a 2/2 with no evasion, so on his own, he's only "meh."
The thing about Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, though — he's a goblin. Goblins tend to have a lot of goblin friends. A situation I can see happening often involves the goblin player attacking someone with five Goblin Tokens. Two of the tokens get blocked and Grenzo gets to do his thing for the three remaining creatures that do combat damage. That's three activations. You'll be able to goad the two creatures your opponent controls, guaranteeing they have no blockers next turn, so you and any other opponent, can attack at will. You'll be able to activate Grenzo, Havoc Raiser even easier once you've initially pried open the doors.
I see Grenzo, Havoc Raiser as the guy who throws the pebble that leads to a Landslide. This card is going to be great fun!
These are only a smattering of the cards that are going to be a blast to play in multiplayer formats from Conspiracy: Take the Throne. When your format revolves around multiplayer games, you are bound to have fun new cards and great reprints by the shovelful. I can't wait to start drafting the cards this Friday!